ERA Architects

Ontario Place in docomomoUS

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Recently ERA’s Michael McClelland collaborated with Ottawa-based architect James Ashby on an article on Toronto’s Ontario Place, for docomomoUS. The article reviews the history of this unusual site, discusses the significance of its iconic design, and reminds us of the opportunity we now have to enrich our understanding of how to approach modernist architecture as part of a cultural heritage landscape.

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Ontario Place was completed in 1971 – a major public attraction, with elaborate harbourfront landscape design by Michael Hough, and space-age architecture by Eberhard Zeidler. The design of the site included the Cinesphere, a triodetic dome housing the world’s first permanent IMAX cinema; five interconnected “pods” – pavilions containing exhibition space, restaurants, and shops; and the landscape context: an intricate weaving of landforms with canals and lagoons.

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Over the years, the site was altered a number of times, which obscured the clarity of the original design. In 2012 the Province of Ontario partially closed the site and announced a major redevelopment project to be completed by 2017. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport has since conducted a heritage study indicating recognition for the heritage value of Ontario Place; and subsequently a long-term vision for the site, which will see new investment and approaches to landscape, architecture, and management.

The redevelopment offers an important opportunity to revitalize an extraordinary piece of modern design, and to bring new life to a unique space on Toronto’s harbour.

For the full article, please see docomomoUS newsletter.

Photos courtesy Zeidler Partnership.